Fairness



Election Rules

The Students’ Guild is a democratic organisation and has a duty to ensure all of its elections are free and fair (Education Act 1994). 

The Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is responsible for creating a framework that allows candidates to campaign for votes in innovative and effective ways, whilst ensuring a level playing field for all. The DRO and Returning Officer will review complaints/activity in line with this framework and work with candidates and campaigners to support a positive campaigning period. If you have any questions about the rules you can contact the DRO at elections@exeterguild.com.

  1. These rules apply to all candidates and their campaigners (here, we refer to both as ‘campaigners’). The candidate is responsible for the actions of their campaigners.
  2. All candidates and their campaigns must, at all times, abide by existing law and regulations, in particular:
    1. University regulations (including IT policy)
    2. Data protection (GDPR)
    3. Health and safety
    4. COVID-19 regulations and guidelines (Government and University)
    5. The Guild’s Code of Conduct
  3. All campaigners must always conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, treating everyone with respect and dignity.
  4. Campaigners must follow the direction from the University’s Campus Services, Estates and Grounds staff, and Estate Patrol whilst campaigning on campus. 
  5. Campaigners should not undertake campaign activity which others could not also reasonably do.
  6. Campaigners may only alter, move or remove their own campaign materials once in place.  
  7. Campaigners may only use mailing lists where lawful to do so and must not use Guild mailing lists. 
  8. Campaigners must allow voters to cast their ballot freely and must not communicate with voters once they have started completing their ballot, nor touch a device being used to complete a ballot. 

If you think someone has breached this framework, you can make an Election Complaint.


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Election Complaints

If you think that a candidate or one of their campaigners has broken the Election Rules, you can make an Election Complaint using this form (not by email or in person). Complaints must be made before 17:00 Thursday 2 December. 

If there has been a breach of the rules, the Deputy Returning Officer will investigate and might issue penalties. Penalties may include: confiscation of materials, instruction to remove online content, banning campaign activities or events (temporarily or permanently), fines (taken from campaign budget), and ultimately disqualification (only in the most serious circumstances). The failure of a campaign to comply with a penalty can incur further penalties.  

The Deputy Returning Officer may instruct the vote to be re-counted if candidates have been retrospectively disqualified. 

Complainers and complainants have the right to appeal a decision up to two hours after it is made. The Returning Officer will assess the fairness of the original decision and penalty. The Returning Officer may uphold the original decision or made a new decision. This decision is then final.

Before making a formal complaint, we recommend trying to resolve the issue with the candidate concerned about it first if you are able to.

If you are a candidate and you feel that your campaign is being unfairly disadvantaged (even if an election rule might not be broken), please contact the Voice team for advice or support elections@exeterguild.com.


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Deputy Returning Officer

The Students’ Guild is a democratic organisation and has a duty to ensure all of its Elections are free and fair (Education Act 1994). It is the job of the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) and the Returning Officer (RO) to make sure this is the case.

Our Deputy Returning Officer is Tom Barrass and he issues the Election Rules and approves the candidates. He is also responsible for investigating and deciding election complaints. You can contact Tom at elections@exeterguild.com.

Our Returning Officer is an appointed member of staff at NUS (National Union of Students) and is responsible for deciding any appealed election complaints and generally the election is free and fair. All communications to the Returning Officer go through the Deputy Returning Officer.


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University of Exeter Students' Guild is a Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Charity Number: 1136468 Company Number: 07217324; registered in England and Wales Registered office: Devonshire House, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4PZ